TEBBUTT: ALL HALE AFTER HALIFAX
The trip to the east coast and Halifax was a successful one for Canada’s Davis Cup team. A 3-1 victory over Colombia, propelled by two singles wins by Milos Raonic and one by Vasek Pospisil, assured Canada of a spot in the World Group for the fourth year in a row.
This current team’s first tie in the World Group was against France in February, 2012, in Vancouver and now the latest has just been completed in Halifax in 2014.
Kyle Clapham/Tennis Canada
That provides added meaning to the words inside the white maple leaf on Raonic’s shirt – A Mari Usque Ad Mare – which comes from Canada’s coat of arms and translates from the Latin as “from sea to sea.” It’s appropriate because (an interesting factoid) eight of Canada’s 10 provinces, including British Columbia and Nova Scotia, and all three territories are adjacent to salt water.
Everything worked to near-perfection in Halifax. The city supported the event to the tune of 15,516 seats sold over the three days, the Metro Centre arena was five minutes walking distance from the main hotel and the Canadian team and its supporters (including at the pep rally above) were warmly welcomed by the city and its citizens.
The end result of the tie is that spot in the 2015 World Group and as a result of Monday’s 3-2 victory by Serbia (sans Novak Djokovic) in India, the possibilities for Canada’s opponent in next year’s first round from March 6-8 are now known.
Here’s a look at who Canada, as the No. 8 seed among the 16 countries in the World Group, could play as a result of the draw to be done on Thursday. Note: Choice of ground is decided on an alternating basis between countries, but meetings before 1970 do not count and so a coin toss (by lot) determines which nation is the host and which is the visitor.
Australia by lot
Belgium by lot
Croatia by lot
Germany by lot
Great Britain by lot
Kazakhstan by lot
Canada has never played Croatia, Germany or Kazakhstan and last played the Aussies in 1964 and the Brits in 1967.
The draw for 2015 will be held in Dubai at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday – that’s 11 a.m. (EDT) in Canada. It will be live-streamed at DavisCup.com, but don’t necessarily expect the World Group to be the first draw done. Often they start with the lower-level Davis Cup groups and lead-up to the elite 16 nations.
There were a lot of positives coming out of Canada’s win over Colombia. One thing it showed for sure is that if Raonic and Pospisil had not been injured in February in Tokyo, Canada would very likely not have been in the predicament last weekend of having to win the World Group Playoff to avoid relegation to the zonal catacombs of Davis Cup competition.
Raonic has once again clearly confirmed himself as the main man for his team. For the fifth time – Mexico City, 2011, (Mexico), Montreal, 2012, (South Africa), Vancouver, 2013, (Spain), Vancouver, 2013, (Italy) and Halifax, 2014, (Colombia) – he has won two singles matches to anchor a Canadian victory.
Pospisil (above with physio Stéphane Lamy) won the key opening singles last Friday over the No. 1 Colombian, Santiago Giraldo, to set the tone for the weekend and reassure everyone that he’s truly over the back issue that troubled him so much during the first half of the year.
Saturday’s doubles was the only disappointment, and Pospisil and Daniel Nestor did not play their best. But Colombians Juan-Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah have developed into a top-flight pairing and they were really motivated, especially after Farah missed three months from May until August with a forearm injury. The Colombian duo had all week to fine tune their games while Pospisil focused mainly on singles. As well, there was an element of pride for the visitors because, on the fast indoor Premier surface, the doubles always looked like their best chance to earn a point.
Already in the World Group for a fourth year in a row, the Canadian team is gaining an identity, both as a group and a well-oiled machine. Three years ago, when Canada defeated Israel in Israel and Raonic had an intestinal illness issue, there was no doctor with the team. Now, there is always one included in the group – Dr. Nicolas Sauvé was in Halifax.
The camaraderie of the team is also improving, both as the players get to know each other better and as they mature, particularly Raonic and Pospisil, who are still only 23 and 24 respectively.
There was a revealing situation last Thursday when it was learned that Alejandro Falla of Colombia would not be able to play because of a shoulder injury. Jesse Levine, who began representing Canada in April, 2013, lived in Ottawa (Nepean) until he was 13 and then moved to Florida with his family because of his younger brother’s medical issues.
The fact that the 26-year-old Levine (above in front) is left-handed made him a useful practice partner for the tie vs. Colombia because Falla is a left-hander. Once the Colombian pulled out, there was talk that Levine, who has some tournaments coming up as he returns following elbow surgery in February, did not need to stay around. But he would hear nothing of it and remained right till the end, a vocal and popular presence on the bench supporting his Canadian compatriots.
DUBOIS CALLS IT A CAREER
Stéphanie Dubois retired after her first round loss at the Coupe Banque Nationale (formerly the Bell Challenge) last week in Quebec City.
Dubois, who turns 28 next month, has been a hard-working, hustle player on the Canadian scene for many years, reaching a WTA high ranking of No. 87 in January, 2012.
She often played in the shadow on her contemporary Aleksandra Wozniak, a more talented player who reached a career best of No. 21 in 2009.
The late Canadian Fed Cup captain Rene Simpson, herself a player who made it to a career high ranking of No. 70 by maximizing her athletic and mental skills, always had a soft spot in her heart for Dubois.
During her career, Dubois represented Canada 22 times in Fed Cup.
“I’m ready to move on to another stage in my life,” Dubois said. “I’m at peace with my decision. I’ve been playing tennis for 22 years – I started when I was four years old. All things must end, and I’ve thought this through.”
Dubois is engaged to Oliver Sheath of Britain and plans to get married next year.
HALIFAX POST CARDS
This is The Old Town Clock on Citadel hill that has been telling the time for Haligonians since 1803.
It’s at the top of Carmichael Street, and on the upper right here you can see the Metro Centre arena where Canada and Colombia played the Davis Cup World Group Playoff last weekend.
These two women were out for an early evening jog past Halifax’s famed Citadel last week. You’ve got to love the T-shirt on the woman on the right.